Sunday, August 24, 2008

March by Geraldine Brook

image from LibraryThing

This is our August Book Club book.

It has been a long time since I read Little Women...a really long time. I remember the movie much more than the book.

Because of that, I came to this book as much more of a stand alone. I didn't know what to expect and I think that helped. I can't say that I enjoyed the book - it took me quite a while to get into it. But I was intrigued. March actually tried to live what his ideals called him to do. I got tired of his pie in the sky attitude and his inability to really engage in the world around him. It especially irritated me when he was in the hospital at the end.

But, it is in the midst of that scene that I found my very favorite part. Marmee was really giving it to March for wanting to go back to the war and single handedly right all his imagined wrongs. Her comment, "You are not God. You do not determine the outcome," resonated with me.

I think this is one of those little blips in my soul that I keep forgetting. Every time I think it is my responsibility to remake the life of a child, to be the one to break through a difficult shell or to make the leap that brings the understanding of reading to a 4th grader, I have forgotten this fact. I am but one. It's not all up to me...instead it's up to all of us to do our part.

I couldn't help but ponder the Iraqi war we are embroiled in. What do my ideals call me to do? March joined the cause with one set of ideals - faced something completely different as he tried to work within the army and then came against a new set of realities working on the plantation with Ethan. So much that he thought he knew and understood was false. Is that the way war still is? I can imagine the soldiers coming home from Iraq are faced with the same turmoil that March was as he tried to connect with the far away world of his family.So, although this is a story about blacks and whites - I think many parallels can be drawn between Muslims and Christians.

Would I say this was one of my favorite books? No - but I'm glad I read it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

image from LibraryThing

I haven't read a Michael Crichton book for a long time. This was just the book I needed to escape. My grandfather died this week and I wanted something to make me forget all the things I needed to do and relax. State of Fear is one of those books that you need to be fairly focused on - there are lots of things going on - because it makes you question what you thought you knew.

The basic premise is an environmental agency that is a money sucking hole and to convince people of the need to donate money to the global warming crisis - they create climate events to scare peoples' checkbooks open.

Peter Evans, a mild mannered lawyer, gets sucked into crisis by representing George Morton, an odd duck of an environmentalist and a very rich man. George begins to become disillusioned with NERF, the environmental group he is funding, and starts to ask many quesitons. Drake, the leader of the group, becomes suspecious and begins pressuring George to change his mind by threatening to kill him. After a drunken acceptance speech - George is killed in a fiery car crash.

Peter thinks things are over, but then he meets Kenner, George's accomplice and a naysayer for all things environmental. Actually, he isn't a naysayer - but a questioner. He pushes Peter to question all he knows about global warming by presenting studies and facts that contradict the general understanding. As Peter becomes more and more embroiled in whatever is happening with NERF, his life is threatened in the Anarctic, in the desert of the Southwest and finally on a little island in the Pacific - that one is the most gruesome - he learns there are still cannibals...

I really enjoyed this book. Although it helped me to escape - it also forced me to think about what I understand and what I believe. It made me believe that the only way to escape this state of fear is to trust in things that are not of this world! :)

Enjoy this!

ps - I read this outloud to Rod right after I finished! So - this should actually count as two books. I think I liked it even better the second time around!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg

image from LibraryThing
This is a great read! Another story of a single mother and a remarkable daughter. What is it about single mothers and their daughters?? This is the story of Jean and Griff, her daughter. Jean has bounced from one awful man to another. Roy, the last boyfriend, beats her and Griff finally convinces mom to leave him - to leave Iowa. They take off for the ocean - but their car spontaneously combusts near Estherville. They have enough money to catch the bus to the little hole in the wall town in Wyoming where Jean grew up and to the grandfather that Griff never knew she had.

There is bad - awful bad-  blood between Jean and Einar, the grandfather. But, Griff is just what the relationship needed. Griff is the unpretentious little girl that sees all and quietly helps the situation.

Jean is only agreeing to stay for a month. Mitch, the black cowboy that Einar has cared for since a bear mauling, becomes Griff's friend and slowly things begin to work out. Until the night the Einar sees Jean in his dead wife's dress. Words are said, Jean runs again but this time Griff puts down her foot and runs back to the ranch.

Life gets interesting as a bear freeing escapade goes wrong, Roy shows up again ready for blood and Jean finds out that life in a small town can be utterly amazing- everyone is watching out for you!

Anyway - i really liked it. It was a bit predictable, but the language is beautiful and you really like Griff - like her a lot. And the secrets that all the main characters keep are dooled out slowly - you get to savor the knowledge, just like Griff does.

Quick and fun read.